Flood v. Florida Gulf Coast University and Vaughn v. Florida Gulf Coast University
Federal lawsuit charging defamation and retaliation by FGCU against female coaches who raised concerns about the school’s Title IX compliance.
Public Justice filed a federal lawsuit charging that Florida Gulf Coast University retaliated against and defamed a successful female coach because she spoke up about gender inequities in the school’s athletic programs. The lawsuit filed on behalf of former FGCU Head Women’s Volleyball Coach Jaye Flood stands on Title IX of the Civil Rights Act – the same law that Flood says the university has violated. The suit notes “a continuing series of retaliatory acts” against Flood. The complaint charges that, after Flood expressed concern about gender inequities at FGCU, the university gave her a low job performance rating for the first time in her tenure, placed her on probation and administrative leave, denied her a salary raise and bonus, and announced that her contract would not be renewed when it expired. The complaint also charges that the school “made defamatory statements intended to damager [Flood’s] professional reputation.”
Holly Vaughn, another former female coach at FGCU, later joined the suit, also charging that she had been retaliated against for expressing concern about the school’s compliance with Title IX requirements. Vaughn was head women’s golf coach at the school.
On October 15, 2008, Public Justice reached a settlement under which FGCU agreed to pay $3.4 million to the Plaintiffs and hire an independent expert in Title IX to review and monitor FGCU’s compliance with the law for five years. Shortly after the settlement was announced, FGCU’s Athletic Director resigned.
Linda Correia, of Webster, Fredrickson, Henrichsen, Correia & Puth, PLLC in Washington, D.C., was lead counsel. Jason Gunter of Fort Myers, FL was co-counsel, along with Public Justice’s Adele Kimmel and Amy Radon.